Monday, March 15, 2010

How To Begin Your Game

The Topic today is how to start your own Paper Game. Lets begin by covering the kind of materials you'll need. The essentials of course will always be:

  • Paper (a spiral notebook will do)
  • Writing utensil (I usually create the character sheet with Pen and fill in the player's information with Pencil so i can erase it later)
  • And an Imagination (I cannot stress how seriously valuable this is to paper gaming. If you cant imagine whats going on, you'll always be lost or confused, and it probably wont be fun)

Other things you might want to include could be: dice, or counters (calculators work for this), a playing board, maybe even figurines. But all these materials depend on the kind of game you want to run. For instance: if you're the sort of weirdo that likes handing out experience Frilly-Willy at absolutely inconvenient times so that the players have trouble keeping track, you might need some counters.

The next step is getting some players. Not everyone has players lined up, and most people find it embarrassing to look for them. Finding players is about as hard as finding someone who will share your peanut-butter and pickle sandwich with you. Mostly they look like normal people, sometimes they even are normal people. But I have a method of finding potentials that will help you avoid making a fool out of yourself. The people you're looking for all have one very simple thing in common: they are either a pirate, or a ninja. All you have to do is ask them which one. If they respond with a real answer then they're a candidate for your game. This is a proven flawless method. I promise.

When looking for players keep in mind the size of the game your interested in. One player games are by far the easiest to run, and the story always comes out great. Two players is kind of a toss-up. If they travel and work together its not much harder than any one player games. However, if they fight and bicker then you could have two separate games on your hand. Anything with three or more players and now you're looking at the standard backstabbing, bloody mess of a role playing game. This isn't a problem by any means, its just different from single player games. Personally, I stop enjoying the game if I have to run it for any more than nine players. So there is definitely a personal limit to how much you can remember and make up within a short period of time.

Now that you've found a player or two, you can get your game on. I usually start by drawing up the map. Here's a tip for that: Draw a small map like a city, ship, or island. The players will roam around this small area for awhile getting themselves used to the game play. Once they're ready all you have to do is zoom out, and draw a bigger map for them to roam around in and discover new things. You can keep doing this over and over tacking on map wherever you need it, and eventually you'll have a whole world laying out in front of you.

The map doesn't have to be first, you could start with the character sheets if you'd like. Ill warn you though, this is a process! Allow for roughly 5 minutes per player per sheet, even if everyone's filling theirs out at the same time. Also, you'll want to catch some little facts about their character. Things like if they have a big nose, white hair, extraordinary sense of smell, or if they're really tall. Not too many, just one or two. These little tidbits will come in handy when you're describing things.
(ie. "The man at the table across the room gives your white hair a look of interest. Its possible he recognizes you from somewhere."

Ok. Lets go over what you need:
  • A place to play
  • The materials (Paper, Pen, & Imagination)
  • Players
  • A Spot to start (like a map, and/or some sort of story prepared ahead of time)

Now go out there and make a nerd out of a close friend (so you two can play embarrassing games together in semi-secret)!

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